Despite supply chain issues, Juneau’s Fourth of July fireworks show is a go

Customer watches fireworks at Smoke Signals Fireworks 2022 06 30
A customer watches a demonstration at Smoke Signals Fireworks on Douglas Island on Thursday. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Juneau’s Fourth of July festivities and fireworks are set for the holiday weekend. But because of supply chain issues, the volunteers who put together the annual fireworks show in Gastineau Channel weren’t even sure they’d get the fireworks in time.

The show’s licensed pyrotechnician, Sigrid Dahlberg, wants to assure Juneau that the show will go on the night of July 3. Dahlberg has worked with other volunteers for the last 20 years or so putting together the professional show.

“Quite a few communities are not having shows because they can’t get enough fireworks. So we’re kind of lucky,” she said.

Through her day job as an environmental engineer, she knew all kinds of projects were being delayed by as much as a year because of pandemic-related supply chain issues. Her fireworks supplier was also affected.

“There was a very high level of concern, even starting back in January,” Dahlberg said.

They even considered delaying the show until Labor Day.

Dahlberg explained that everything originates from China and makes its way across the Pacific Ocean to many different destinations. Eventually, a supplier gets Juneau’s fireworks into a special shipping container designed for explosives.

This year’s shipment arrived in Juneau last Friday. That gave Dahlberg’s team only nine days to prepare. Normally, they’d have three more weeks.

“We compressed our schedule considerably,” Dahlberg said. “So most of the main crew is taking time off work and just working full-on, getting this show ready to go. So we really want people to show up and watch it.”

The city donates the money to buy the actual fireworks. Dahlberg said that otherwise, the show comes together entirely through volunteer work and businesses donating services.

And then there’s the unusual weather. State authorities have banned burns and fireworks across huge swaths of the state because of dry weather and wildfire concerns. Juneau’s been a lot drier than usual, too.

But Dahlberg said Juneau’s show is very safe and OK with local fire authorities.

“Because we shoot from a concrete barge in the middle of the channel,” she said. “We have a huge fallout zone around the barge, and everything is falling on water.”

Dahlberg said the show will be about 20 minutes long. It’s set to begin at 11:59 p.m. on July 3. Dahlberg will be on the barge.

“We can hear people on the shore screaming and yelling, and we love it,” she said.

For people celebrating with their own fireworks, restrictions the Juneau Assembly adopted last year remain in effect. The rules are cumbersome to explain, but generally, fireworks use is limited to private property, and the louder the fireworks, the fewer times and places they can be used.

The Douglas Fourth of July Committee has many activities planned throughout the holiday weekend, including a parade at 2 p.m. on the Fourth. The parade in downtown Juneau is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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